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Peter Fonda Not The Only Actor Who’s Overshadowed By Family

Fri., March 27, 1998, midnight

Peter Fonda’s career hasn’t exactly matched his fathers’. Nor his sisters’. Talk about having trouble living up to the family name.

Dad Fonda made the likes of “The Grapes of Wrath,” “My Darling Clementine,” “Mister Roberts,” “12 Angry Men” and “On Golden Pond (for which he won an Oscar).” Sis Fonda” starred in “Barefoot in the Park,” “They Shoot Horses, Don’t they?” “Klute” (for which she won an Oscar), “Julia,” “Coming Home” (for which she won a second Oscar) and “On Golden Pond.”

And son/bro Peter? Well, there have been a few good films. But along with “Easy Rider” and “Ulee’s Gold” (see capsule review below), his filmography includes “High Ballin’,” “Cannonball Run,” “Spasms,” “Jungle Heat,” Certain Fury,” “Deadfall” and “Escape From L.A.”

Not an Oscar among the lot.

Well, Peter’s not alone. He’s not the first Hollywood underachiever. Nor is he likely to be the last.

Tyrone Power was a big star of the 1950s and ‘60s, making such movies as “The Mark of Zorro,” “The Long Grey Line” and “Witness for the Prosecution.” His father was a silent actor of some note, while his son, Tyrone Power Jr., is best known for his bit part in “Cocoon.”

Barbara Streisand is a Hollywood legend, having won an Oscar for the musical “Funny Girl,” having appeared in a number of comedies such as “What’s Up Doc?” and directed such films as “Yentl” and “The Prince of Tides.” Elliott Gould has appeared in a variety of films, from “M*A*S*H” to “Bugsy.”

Their son, Jason Gould, is best known for playing a role with which he is familiar, Streisand’s son, in “The Prince of Tides.”

Steve McQueen: “The Great Escape,” “The Sand Pebbles,” “Bullitt,” “The Getaway,” “Papillion.” Son Chad McQueen: “The Karate Kid” and several films that nobody ever heard of.

Of course, there’s the other side, too. Liza Minnelli won an Oscar for “Cabaret.” Mom Judy Garland, despite a long career, never took home the gold.

Jeff and Beau Bridges, who starred together in “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” both have worked with their late father Lloyd. Both have forged movie careers more impressive than their dad’s.

And, coming full circle, there’s Jane Fonda’s two Oscars to dad’s late-life lone statuette (which he won over Warren Beatty in “Reds,” Paul Newman in “Absence of Malice” and Burt Lancaster in “Atlantic City”).

As for Peter, well, he at least has more credits than his own daughter, Bridget. And that Oscar nomination (“Ulee’s Gold”).

For now.

Ulee’s Gold

****

Peter Fonda, eerily resembling his later father Henry, stars as a Ulysses Jackson, a 50-something Florida beekeeper who is forced to re-examine his life in this small, independent film by Victor Nunez (“Ruby in Paradise”). Caught in the emotional crush caused by his grief over his wife’s death, his sense of uncompromising self-reliance and his sense of responsibility over raising his two granddaughters, Ulee is further pressured by two friends of his imprisoned son who offer the boy’s drugged-up wife in exchange for some hidden loot from a past holdup. Writer/director Nunez holds the threat of danger over all that happens, but the film is less a study of violence than it is a look at how one makes hard decisions in the face of harsh circumstances. In the end, Nunez strikes a life-affirming tone, which is no small feat in this era of cinematic vigilante fever. Rated R

I Know What You Did Last Summer

**-1/2

When Kevin Williamson reinvented the teen slasher film with his screenplay for “Scream,” it became clear that imitations would follow. This was the first, beating even “Scream 2” to the punch, which should came as only something of a surprise because Williams wrote it, too. Directed by Jim Gillespie instead of “Scream” (and “A Nightmare of Elm Street” creator) Wes Craven, “I Know What You Did…” involves the familiar theme of teenagers in peril. Led by television stars Jennifer Love Hewitt (“Party of Five”) and Sara Michelle Gellar (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), our quartet is involved in a hit-and-run. After ruthlessly (but not without a little agony) disposing of the body, they head off to college. But they can’t leave their crime behind them. And then they start getting these notes. And then this hooded fisherperson with a hook starts ripping people open. Hewitt and Gellar add spice to the proceedings, and the production values are definitely above “Friday the 13th” quality. But “Scream” and the even better “Scream 2” have intelligence, humor and an undercurrent of self-knowing satire that shows “I Know What You Did…” to be a passe bit of Hollywood formula. It’s hard to admit this, but maybe Wes Craven truly is the secret to the “Scream” success. Rated R

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo


 

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